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Caps aim to put stranglehold on Rangers in Game 3

by Dan Rosen


(Washington leads best-of-7 series, 2-0)


Big story: The series shifts to Madison Square Garden with the Capitals leading 2-0 after Mike Green hammered in a 55-foot one-timer for the overtime winner Saturday in Game 2 at Verizon Center. The Capitals have limited the Rangers to one goal, which went off of John Erskine's skate. Washington has won the special teams’ battle with two power-play goals and a perfect penalty kill, which is 7-for-7. The Rangers could possibly get two more guys back in the lineup Monday as both Ryane Clowe (undisclosed) and Marc Staal (eye) are getting closer to playing.

Team Scope:

Capitals: Coach Adam Oates gave his team a partial off-day Sunday, making their practice in Arlington, Va. optional. The Capitals earned it with two strong efforts at Verizon Center to give themselves a 2-0 cushion in the series.

"It's nice whenever you have an optional," Capitals forward Jay Beagle said. "If guys feel like they need some rest, they can ride the bike, get a stretch in or if you need to get out there and get a little skate in, it's good. It's good for the guy. Everyone, just individually, does what they need to do to be ready for [Monday]."

Everyone already knew the Capitals’ power play could be dangerous. It was first in the NHL at 26.3 percent during the regular season. But Washington has put on a penalty-killing clinic over the first two games after finishing the regular season 27th in the League on the PK.

The Capitals have been aggressive on the puck and have forced the Rangers into poor decisions resulting in either clears or shorthanded chances the other way.

The PK actually became a strength late in the season, when it went 28-for-33 over the final 12 games.

Rangers: After scoring 51 goals over 14 games in April, the Rangers are once again struggling to find offense in the playoffs. Their lone goal went in off an opponent's skate. They didn't sustain any kind of pressure in Game 2 Saturday and went the final 17:43 of the game, including all eight minutes in overtime, without a shot on goal.

"I don't think we should overthink this," Mats Zuccarello said Sunday. "I think we should go back to how we play at the end of the season, getting pucks deep, getting in on our forecheck. That's when we're at our best and creating offense."

The Rangers' biggest problem in the series has been on the power play. They are 0-for-7 with 10 shots on goal. The Capitals have also blocked 13 shots when the Rangers have been on the power play.

"We definitely gotta get more shots on our power play, get some more traffic in front of him," captain Ryan Callahan said. "If we do that, I think we'll be fine."

Clowe said he isn't ruling out a return in Game 3. He has missed the past three games dating back to the end of the regular season with an undisclosed injury.

Staal, who hasn't played since being struck in the right eye by a deflected shot on March 5, did not speak to the media Sunday, but his status likely remains the same. He said earlier in the series that he has to feel comfortable that he can play his normal game despite some blurred vision out of his injured eye before he returns.

Who's hot: Capitals goalie Braden Holtby has a .983 save percentage and 0.47 goals-against average through the first two games. Holtby has allowed one goal on 60 shots. Alex Ovechkin and Green each have a goal and an assist in the series.

Injury report: For the Rangers, Clowe (undisclosed) and Staal (eye) are gametime decisions. The Capitals are missing Brooks Laich (sports hernia).

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